Wick Communications

The importance of archives

In Online media on 28 Apr 2016 at 4:58 pm


Several times a day I check the online archives of the Half Moon Bay Review. At least a couple times a month I go back into the morgue and look at newspapers dating back to the 1960s. Very occasionally, I wander down to the city library, fire up the aging microfilm gizmo and take a trip back in time through generations of Coastside history.

Your archives are probably just as important to you. Have you ever wondered what you would do without them?

Most of us take these resources for granted. We haven’t put much effort into collecting them. The things we’ve put online since sometime in the 1990s are simply there once we upload our content and the physical books, such as they exist, were there before we started. But there is increasing concern about the fragility of the system that protects our first draft of history. …

The National Newspaper Association addressed this with a cover story in the current Pub Aux. Writer Teri Saylor notes that there is no widely accepted way to collect newspaper archives. There are private companies collecting PDFs for a fee. And there are some efforts to digitize what was written before the internet. There is not, however, an industry-wide plan.

Incidentally, the recovery of archives proves crucial any time a company like ours considers changing content management systems. It can be more costly and time-consuming than you realize to transfer all that data to new servers.

And there is another concern that is largely out of our hands. As the Pub Aux article notes, keeping the microfilm has traditionally been a service of local libraries. But as their equipment ages, many libraries are getting out of that business. I know the Half Moon Bay librarian asks me regularly if she can just turn the problem over to me.

This is just something to think about. Wick archives are the local history in many places. Going forward we might have to think about how to  protect this resource for our children and grandchildren?


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